Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Al Casey - Surfin' Hootenannydotdotdot
artworkAl's "Jivin' Around" CD on Ace Records is out of the UK. It includes the entire "Surfin' Hootenanny" record in mono, because the stereo tapes had been "lost." In my review, I almost wrote "I bet they turn up on Stacy in the US soon." Stacy issued the album in mono with the black & white cover in the eighties, then later in stereo with the color cover on original mottled green vinyl. The Ace CD's cover is in black and white. I should have put my neck out, so I could say I told you son now. The original label Stacy has issued it, and this time in stereo with the color cover, resulting in an extra star for the stereo, though from vinyl. It may actually be a bootleg. Al Casey was the actual creator of the sound Duane Eddy made famous. He played rhythm, and in some cases lead, on Eddy's hits while they were both with Lee Hazelwood. Lee produced the nearly evil masterfully dark surf mung that comprises this album. Al is also rumored to be the guitar genius behind Jody Reynolds and the Storms ("Endless Sleep" & "Thunder"). These sessions were recorded at RCA Hollywood, where the Astronauts cut their classics, but under the hands of Jack Miller instead of Al Schmidt. The band on the surf sessions was Al Casey - lead guitar, Vivian Casey - bass, Don Preston - guitar, Marshall Leib - guitar, Leon Russell - organ, and Hal Blaine - drums. Al was a monster guitarist in a horn era, and laid the groundwork for a lot of other to follow.

Surf tracks in common between the two CD's are: "Surfin' Hootenanny", "El Aguila", "Thunder Beach", "Baja", "Surfin' Blues Part 1", "Lonely Surfer", "Guitars, Guitars, Guitars", "The Hearse", "Ramrod", "Caravan", "Surfin' Blues Part 2", and "Surf's You Right". Non surf tracks in common are: "Easy Pickin'", "Indian Love Call", "Full House", "Hot Foot", "Cookin'", "Doin' The Shotish", "Jivin' Around", "Monte Carlo", "Doin' It", "Laughin'", and "Chicken Feather." There are 3 tracks on the Ace CD not on the Stacy CD: "The Hucklebuck", "Theme From Huckleberry Hound", and "What Are You Gonna Do In '64". The extra tracks on the Stacy CD which are not on the Ace CD are: "Teen-Age Blues", "Give'n Up", "If I Told You", "The Pink Panther", "Willa May", "She Gotta Shake", "Guitar Man", "Come What May", "A Fool's Blues", "Juice", "The Stinger", and "Keep Talking". The extra tracks on both CD's are not surf, and some are vocals. Still, it's about three dollars less for 9 more tracks.
Picks: Surfin' Hootenanny, El Aguila (The Eagle), Thunder Beach, Baja, Surfin' Blues - Part 1, Lonely Surfer, Guitars, Guitars, Guitars, The Hearse, Ramrod, Caravan, Surfin' Blues - Part 2, Surf's You Right

Track by Track Review

Surfin' Hootenanny dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Al and producer Lee Hazelwood took a basically cool jam/compliment to the surf bands tracks and placed the Blossoms (K-C-Ettes) over the top inspired by Dick Dale's "King Of The Surf Guitar," rendering it an interesting time capsule, but not particularly great surf, and hiding some otherwise grand guitar work.

El Aguila (The Eagle) dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Lee Hazelwood produced this album, and since he wrote this, it is likely that he intended it to sound like this, as opposed to the way the Astronauts played it. This is a wonderful tune, and Al's guitar work does it justice.

Thunder Beach dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Inspired by or adapted from his collaborative work with Jody Reynolds & the Storms' killer classic "Thunder," this tune is great to have. Al makes everything sound big.

Baja dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Everyone knows Lee Hazelwood classics like "Baja" from the Astronauts, but it is Lee's production with Al Casey that probably makes it sound like Lee intended...slow and painful! Al had pretty good meter, as was required for his the slow treatment. It gives the song a completely different feel than any other version.

Surfin' Blues - Part 1 dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A blues jam that Al wrote in the studio.

Lonely Surfer dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Ok tune, but not particularly note worthy.

Guitars, Guitars, Guitars dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Duane Eddy tribute/reaction single. OK, but not great.

The Hearse dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is magnificent. Al's interpretations of Lee's writing is amazing. He has a knack for slow pacing without a loss of power.

Ramrod dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Al reportedly played lead on the Duane Eddy hit single, because Duane was on tour when the studio was booked. Al was his studio rhythm player, but seldom played live with him. This is the same arrangement, played with complete abandon.

Caravan dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Al's playing on Duke Ellington's "Caravan" is really cool. It has a mean tenor about it, and the tribal toms give it such a primal feeling. This is the best surf version out there!

Surfin' Blues - Part 2 dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Part 2 of the studio jam.

Surf's You Right dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Another Lee Hazelwood number. Among the great surf pun titles, and a cool tune that's pretty darn fast and melodic. It has some similarities to "Deep In The Heart Of Texas."